Bondi Mews is a personal and professional collaboration between MHNDU principals Brian Meyerson and Kevin Ng, a significant undertaking which was built upon an envisioning of potentiality beyond initial planning and size constraints. The project has re-characterised a long-neglected, heritage-listed terrace house and adjoining empty lot, as three modern homes which fulfill the demands of elegant urban family living, while rejuvenating the streetscape beyond its boundaries.
Despite its prime location in a residential Bondi Junction pocket, agents had difficulty selling the site due to planning constraints. After a two-year wait following the submission of their contextually informed proposal, Kevin and Brian’s intrepid vision to create two new homes, which would transform the long-derelict space, as well as rejuvenate the long-neglected heritage terrace home next door, was collaboratively explored and welcomed by council. A triumph of a tailored, site-specific vision over heeding generalised regulatory restrictions, the proposal detoured numerous planning controls yet presented a logical solution for the site, particularly in terms of the proposition’s respectful consideration of urban design outcomes and heritage values.
One of the most serried sites MHNDU have ever worked on, Brian and Kevin’s challenge from the outset was ensuring both new homes were exposed to ample natural light. An integral planning solution to this was to flip the traditional terrace house layout and place the bedrooms downstairs, providing the best light to the communal living spaces upstairs, with an open tread staircase allowing light to flood through to the levels beneath. What the project lacked in plan, could be accounted for in height, so each terrace benefits from a sense of upward spatial generosity, boosted by features such as double height windows and strategically placed skylights. Shoehorning every inch from the space, the two and three-level residences each offer three bedrooms, two-car garages and internal lifts.
Externally, number fourteen’s twenty-square metre outdoor pocket and next door’s rooftop terrace landscaping by Dangar Barin Smith plays a defining role in the project’s aesthetic balance and sense of seclusion. Three strategically placed Kentia palms at varying heights block view lines between adjoining houses, boosted by clustered bamboo at the fence line, supply green privacy to four other families living within view. The smallest garden the firm has ever produced ironically provides the most widespread privacy benefit of any of MHNDU’s projects; a testament to the importance of strategic landscaping in condensed built environments.
According to its designers, Bondi Mews is not strictly conceptualised as an architectural project. Conceived foremostly as an urban design project, a heritage project, and a landscaping and interiors project, the size parameters were so constrained and the requirements for each residence so specified, that there remained little leeway for artful touches without functional application. And yet, the resulting homes are an architectural success story, reinventing the wheel of the compact inner city terrace home with creative yet pragmatic design solutions which address the needs, both practical and aesthetic, of the design conscious, modern family.
Location BondiYear 2021Credits Photography Tom Ferguson, Interiors Lawless & Meyerson